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Concrete Genie review
by Ben C

I do not have a single artistic bone in my body, and I say forthright that I would probably not have picked up this quaint indie game were it not for the fact it is free this month for PSN users. This circumvention of the rather steep £30 tag coupled with the fact I went in with no expectations likely makes me more lenient on reviewing this.

 Nevertheless I enjoyed this for what it was, a heavily stylised and cartoonish little drawing game where you use your controller to draw (preset) neon monsters on walls and decorate them with (preset) tails, ears, hats and various other little bits to try to breathe life into these otherwise characterless creatures. But there lies perhaps the biggest problem (and surely the most grating for the artists), the fact there are many restrictions to what you can paint. Yes you can draw cute landscapes on just about every wall and theres a good amount of natural objects to choose from, but even if you manage to wrangle your controller into the shape you want these objects to take on the wall, by the time you’re done it still looks more like a great neon mess than anything resembling the natural world. The same is true for the aforementioned genies, as although there are numerous customisation options for you to drunkenly play ‘pin-the-tail-on the-genie’, the difficulty in making it look the way you want combined with the brief time you most likely will spend with these individuals before they become lumped together in your genie puzzle-solving army makes most efforts to make them standout futile (the most artistic genie I made was one with 8 gargantuan spider legs jutting out of its body, something I quickly altered after the first time I saw him bounding towards me at record speeds), in this sense they are much akin to the messy environmental drawings, just with a friendlier face. As mentioned, there are puzzles in this game that have to be solved to progress, although these puzzles amount to little more than ‘call the genie over and draw stuff for it’. The combat system they introduce is similarly simple and limiting, equating to little more than periodic button-pressing.

 I had no qualms about the overarching story, yes it was simple and cliche, but it was done in a well enough way that I didn’t really mind. And how it incorporates a great change up in gameplay during the last chapter is quite well done too, making it feel truly like a final push against the ‘Darkness’. The world that this story takes place in is also an intriguing one, a forgotten fishing village enveloped by an unknown evil sets an effectively eerie atmosphere from the start, making all the more incentive to ‘paint the town back to life’ as standing back and witnessing some of the light you have brought back to Denska really helps to carry motivation for seeing out the story. Although the short completion time of this, even if you go for Platinum, stops most of the gameplay and story aspects from really shining.

 All-in-all a unique little indie title doesn’t quite justify its £30 price tag due to all the limits it imposes on the players creativity. Still for the price of free you could do a lot worse and you’re bound to get some forgettable fun out of this.